With a height of 3320 metres above sea level and more than forty kilometres in diameter, Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe.
Its name derives from the Greek word ‘Aitna’ meaning ‘to burn’, but in the past it was also called Atma Ǧabal Siqilliya (mountain of Sicily) or Mons Gebel, combining Latin and Arabic etymologies for the word mountain, which led to the Sicilian name Mungibeddu, but locals refer to Etna as ”a Muntagna’ (The Mountain).
Etna is at the centre of many legends from Greek and Latin mythology, but not only.
It is said that, inside the volcano, the Greek god Hephaestus had his forge in which he prepared the arrows used as weapons by Zeus and that he tamed the fire demon Adranos by driving him out of the volcano.
Etna has inspired numerous literary works from antiquity to the present day, from Hesiod to Aeschylus’ tragedy Etna, now lost, and Euripides’ play The Cyclops.
In modern times, the Spanish Baroque poet Góngora wrote Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea, inspired by the legend of the shepherd Aci and the nymph Galatea, and Hercules Patti set his novel, Un bel novembre, in Zafferana, a small village at the foot of Mount Etna.
Pier Paolo Pasolini shot four films on Etna, while in 2008, Coldplay used Etna as the set of their video clip Violet Hill, the first single from their fourth album Viva la vida.